WHAT: Lake MX230
WHERE: 800-804-7777; lakecycling.com
HOW MUCH: $160
My three-year-old, beaten-down shoes had finally taken on the shape of my feet perfectly. Unfortunately, they also had taken on a certain funk and shed every last remnant of tread. I dreaded the process of breaking in a new pair of shoes, but after just a few rides with the Lake MX230s, my apprehension proved ill-founded.
The Lakes' supple full-grain leather construction made for a quick break-in period. The buckle/Velcro combo fastened tightly without any pressure points from day one, and even after a few eight-plus-hour days the MX230s never left my dogs barking.
After a couple hundred miles—more than a few of which came the hard way, with my bike on my back—I was impressed with the shoe's solid sole and able traction.
Though I rode the Lakes in Idaho and Utah, I live in Southern California, where mud is scarcer than real boobs and rusty cars, so I can't vouch for their wet-weather performance. But in hot, dry conditions they stay surprisingly cool. Whenever I picked up a little speed I felt the mesh vents doing their job. One word to the wise: Use Loctite on the buckles' mounting hardware—I didn't and almost found myself S.O.L. trailside when one worked its way free.
Even though the soles started peeling at the tips after a few months' hard use, that's an easy fix. I'd recommend these for anyone looking for a lightweight, well-ventilated workhorse of a shoe.